1408 – A Movie Review

Based on a Stephen King short story, 1408 started very strong.  We were quickly introduced to the complexities of John Cusack’s character through deft editing, efficient dialogue, and Cusack’s effortless acting.  Unfortunately, the movie became a tribute to inconstancy for the remainder of the film and went nowhere fast.

 

Cusack plays a once talented author who sold out.  He now writes about haunted hotels after staying in them overnight.  A total disbeliever, he is condescending of his own work and is often the opposite of what his readers expect when they meet him.

 

However, soon he is mysteriously invited to visit a hotel in New York City and stay specifically in room 1408.  The manager, played magnanimously by Sam Jackson, refuses to rent Cusack the room, but eventually gives in due to legalities.  Cusack believes it’s all just part of the show as he’s before seen such dramatizations.

 

Cusack quickly realizes that the room is actually haunted, and the movie spends a great deal of time trying to terrify us with psychological taunting.  It offers many, what some may consider, cerebral twists and turns, but I found the whole thing a supreme waste of time.  There were moments of true creepiness, but overall I thought it rather cliché and annoying.

 

I find Cusack always entertaining, but even he couldn’t rescue this movie as 1408 went nowhere fast, and this was especially disappointing because it started so interestingly.

Reading Raider Fundraiser, December of 2007

Below are some photographs my wife took from my appearance at the Bloomington High School Reading Raider Book Club fundraiser held at Barnes and Noble.  It was a magnificent event with all manner of entertainment taking place.  I heard the Reading Raiders raised nearly nine hundred dollars!  Way to go, Reading Raiders!

  All Photographs Copyright © Kristen Foley 2007  All Rights Reserved

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The Sandman: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman – A Book Review

I’ve heard much about The Sandman series for many years, and so last summer I finally decided to experience it for myself.  The first volume was adequate, but it didn’t “wow” me as much as I expected.  Probably because, by this point in time, Gaiman’s concepts had been copied and recopied so many times by so many other writers that the original held little distinction.

 

I took solace in the fact that Volume III of the series was to be the one that set The Sandman beyond anything else in the comic book medium that came before or after.  Sadly—for me—it didn’t electrify.  Good?  Certainly.  Great?  No.

 

So, believing the opinions of several friends can’t be wrong, I still pressed on.  Volume IV, Season of Mists, proved to be the one.  This is the volume that completely and utterly “wowed” me.  From the beginning to the end, this was a tightly woven story packing emotional, philosophical, intellectual, and conceptual punches that did not fail to capture both my imagination and respect.  The character of Morpheus is visually interesting, but it was not until this volume that he began to fascinate me as a well-rounded character.

 

The premise is simple in Season of Mists.  Morpheus realizes he long ago made a mistake for which he must atone.  It is how he deals with coming to this decision and the ramifications of going about executing it that astonished me.  Gaiman’s imagination is limitless in Season of Mists, pulling from established myths and legends as well as creating his own.

 

The art, like all of the volumes, is rather hit or miss.  Luckily, the image of Morpheus is so striking and the stories so good that the art is easy to overlook.

 

Finally, I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Harlan Ellison by any stretch of the imagination, but his introduction to this volume is delightful and is alone worth the price of the entire book.

Allin Township Library Book Signing, September of 2007

Here are some photographs from an appearance at the Allin Township Library in Stanford, IL.  I gave a talk on the writing process and discussed various methods of getting published.  Special thanks to Gloria Beanblossom–head librarian and fellow author–for inviting me to her library!

 All Photographs Copyright © Kristen Foley 2007  All Rights Reserved

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Outside View of Allin Township Library

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Young Man Taking Notes

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Use Your Writer’s Market!

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Taking Questions

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The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood, My Lifeline

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Standing

The Cover to “Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian (Volume I, Episode I)”

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This is the cover Amazon Shorts developed for the first of my serialized stories featuring Dr. Nekros. 

The Amazon Shorts program an initiative through Amazon.com where the reader can download an author’s work for only $00.49.  Amazon.com will store the story for you in a digital locker, email it to you in the body of an email, and also email it to you as a PDF. 
 
My first story is called “Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian.”  Dr. Nekros is the lead character in a serialized storyline who is a ghost hunter pursuing the demon that disfigured him, all while trying to avoid his ex-wife.  Check it out at: 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000Z9VWI0/ref=cm_arms_pdp_dp

Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris – A Book Review

A friend, feeling that my sense of humor would appreciate such a thing, loaned me a copy of Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris.  I’ve heard quite a bit about Sedaris, but I’ve never had the pleasure of reading his work.  Holidays On Ice did not fail to delight.

 

An exceptionally quick read, this book is a collection of mostly previously published material.  It contains both fiction and nonfiction alike, and at times I seriously couldn’t be sure to which genre some stories belonged.  This ambiguity made things all the more fun.

 

Sedaris takes a rather sarcastic approach to how people treat Christmas, and while it may seem snotty and cynical, I found it painfully accurate in many cases, especially if you read between the lines.

 

While I wouldn’t consider Sedaris as skilled a writer as McCarthy or Chabon in terms of technique, he certainly knows how to convey his humor through the written word, and I believe such aptitude is incredibly rare.  He is one of the few writers I’ve ever experienced who had me literally laughing out loud as I read.

Henry’s Market Book Signing, August of 2007

Beardstown Houston Memorial Library sponsored a book signing at Henry’s Market in Beardstown, IL.  Henry’s Market has a lovely ambiance and wonderful food and drink selections.  If you haven’t been there, pay them a visit!  Make sure you drop by the Beardstown Houston Memorial Library as well!

All Photographs Copyright © Kristen Foley 2007  All Rights Reserved

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Live Free or Die Hard – A Movie Review

Live Free or Die Hard was one of those movies that I went ahead and rented out of morbid curiosity despite the fact I had no real desire to watch it.  Seriously, as much fun as Die Hard: With a Vengeance was, I had a hard time believing the franchise could go anywhere new.

 

But, finding my wife out with friends one Saturday morning, I went ahead and popped it in as I worked on other tasks thinking if anything remotely interesting actually happened, I could give it my attention.

 

To be perfectly honest, after about ten minutes, Live Free or Die Hard had me glued to the screen. 

 

Wow. 

 

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that.

 

Fact is, this thing was nonstop action from almost the beginning, and it’s the kind of action you can’t help but watch.  Over the top?  Sure.  Entertaining?  Indubitably.

 

They introduce Justin Long into the mix as a hacker-techno-god guy.  (I’m sure he got the job based off his acting resume.)  When I originally heard this premise, I realized they were going down a well-worn path.  Old action dude teams up with spunky-hipster computer guy.

 

Well, a horrible cyber-crime is committed, and Bruce Willis (still, indefinably charismatic) must escort Long somewhere to try to save the nation from being cut off at the knees.  Again, nothing new in terms of plot.  Cyber-crime was groundbreaking in, what, the mid-Nineties?  Now … not so much.

 

But somehow—SOMEHOW—it worked!  Long’s character was actually likable, and the complexity of the cyber-crime really made me sit back and say, “Good googley-moogley, I’ve never before seen it done quite that complicated.”

 

And the villain of the movie mesmerized me.  There was something about him.  Where had I seen him before?  And then it dawned on me—it was Timothy Olyphant, the guy who plays Sheriff Bullock on Deadwood (awesome show).  He took the intensity of Bullock and twisted it to shape his understated, yet oddly captivating, villain.  With Olyphant, you either think he’s a superb actor or a terrible one.  I, as you no doubt realize, find his acting tremendously potent. 

 

But, regardless of the surprisingly interesting plot and unexpectedly compelling characters, the real star of this movie was the action.  Each action scene made a point to outdo its predecessor, and while everything wasn’t necessarily realistic, I was able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride.

 

On a final note, I’m glad that Willis made this movie the only way it could be done.  The days of brainless action flicks from the Eighties and Nineties, for me, are over.  I went in thinking Live Free or Die Hard would be a relic from the past, and I was more than pleased to realize it was part of the new brand of action movie—one with an actual plot, characterization, and real acting.

Beardstown Houston Memorial Library Book Signing, September of 2006

The following pictures are from a local authors event at the Beardstown Houston Memorial Libraryin Beardstown, IL.  If you live in the area, you should really drop by and pay them a visit.  These pictures were taken by my incredible wife, Kristen.

All Photographs Copyright © Kristen Foley 2006  All Rights Reserved

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Library Sign

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The Authors

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With Mom and Dad

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Souls Triumphant, On the Shelves

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Signing Books for Generous Friends

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At the Podium

Black Dossier by Moore and O’Neill – A Book Review

I’ll never forget when I first read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I knew Alan Moore was a god among men in the comic book world, but even I wasn’t prepared for the majesty of his storytelling, the potency of his intelligence, or the power of his inspirational imagination.

Thus, when news surfaced that a new League adventure called Black Dossier was in the works, I could not wait—COULD NOT WAIT—until its release.

Finally, after more than a few delays, it was unbound, and while I won’t say I’m disappointed in it, I don’t love it as I did the other two League volumes.  That being said, I respect Moore all the … more … for Black Dossier.

Alan Moore is not afraid to create art on his terms, and his terms alone.  While Black Dossier does not have the charismatic story or sheer excitement of its predecessors, it absolutely pushes the limits as to what has traditionally been accepted in comic books the last several decades.

For example, Moore has said for quite a while he’d like to write a comic that made use of 3D glasses, and so Black Dossier does (no worries—glasses included).  There are postcards, comic strips (like in the newspapers), excerpts from single spaced files with handwritten notes upon them, unreleased editions of works written by popular authors or featuring well-known characters, and pamphlets.  Seventy-percent of this book literally duplicates the innards of a dossier.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Consequently, I feel I also must comment on the exorbitant amount of nudity in this book.  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has always been a book for mature readers and on par with an R-rated movie.  Like every other aspect of Black Dossier, Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill challenge conventions, and I admire them for that.  However, even I found the level of nudity gratuitous.  For some characters, the nudity made perfect sense when looked upon in a historical light (of which Moore is an aficionado), but at times it seemed the nudity was thrown in for simple orneriness.  In other words, this is probably not a book you’ll want your children to get hold of.  And if they’re unfamiliar with Alan Moore and his rebellious inclinations, I also wouldn’t expose it to your parents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, or girlfriends.     

Even so, because of the willingness of author Moore and artist O’Neill to put forth so much effort into an undeniable work of originality and fearlessness, they earned my unending respect.  However, I’d be lying if I said the nontraditional embellishments were enthralling.  True, they work in a roundabout way to complete the overall story, but in the end, taken as a whole, the story wasn’t terribly interesting, and the accompaniments served as an impediment to an already deficient plot.  My disappointment originated from the impression that the plot served the concept, rather than the concept serving the plot.

As an artist, I absolutely loved the boundaries Black Dossier annihilated and believe Moore and O’Neill should be looked upon as artistic liberators.  As a reader, though, I found Black Dossier dull and plodding.